Celebrity Israeli chef Eyal Shani received a threatening anti-Semitic letter addressed to his New York restaurant, as reported by i24 News. The 60-year-old Jerusalem native opened second branch of his Tel Aviv restaurant in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen a few months ago, under the name, HaSalon. Last week Shani got a critical review published about his restaurant by the NY Post, criticizing a $24 appetizer on the new restaurant’s menu that consisted of only a seasoned tomato.
Shani’s business partner, Shahar Segal, took to Twitter on Saturday to share a photo of the anonymous letter sent to Shani at restaurant. “Majority of Americans despise Israel. We did not want your Soda Stream. And only stupid kikes would eat at your overpriced pit,” the handwritten letter reads. The letter goes on to gripe about Jews in general “not paying taxes”, and faults the ultra-Orthodox community for a breakout of measles in NYC. “Jews are not wanted here! HaSalon days are numbered!” reads the hateful threat letter.
The anti-Semitic letter followed a less dramatic critical review by the Post’s food critic Steve Cuozzo. The article, posted on July 2nd in the Living section, was entitled ‘Restaurant charges $24 for a single tomato’. The writer admits that the restaurant’s hydroponically-grown tomato dish was pleasing: “Its red/green/brown hues and sea of swirling seeds thrilled my eyes. Its deep, nutty-and-sweet, late-August, just-picked flavor pleased my palate.” Still, he writes that the medium size raw tomato dressed in salt and olive oil was overpriced beyond the “sticker-shock”. “Its appearance on the menu offended my wallet,” Cuozzo wrote.
The article went on, “Shani says, “We spared no expense and journeyed for a month to find these tomatoes and finally found them” at the Union Square Greenmarket. But I’ll wait for August, when Whole Foods offers the out-of-the-ground variety for a buck or two.”
Cuozzi also takes a jab at other aspects of the restaurant. “The tomato with the terrifying tab is one of many crazy-priced dishes at HaSalon (735 10th Ave. at 49th Street), a self-described “party” where customers dance on table-tops to ear-shattering Israeli and American pop and disco after 10 p.m. (There’s a more “tranquil” 6:45 p.m. seating).” He goes on to add, “Many of the Mediterranean menu’s scandalously priced stinkers were just meh.”
The article ends of with, “HaSalon translates as “the salon” or, as applied to this venue, “the living room.” But it might as well mean, Ha, suckers! The joke’s on us.”
Shani, who is known for his passion for tomatoes, has not commented on the hate mail, or on the professional critic.